Chinese Words for Change

By Sujanti Djuanda – Chinese teacher at

Chinese Words for Change: 变(biàn= to change, to turn),变成(biànchéng= to change into, to turn into) and变化(biànhuà=to change (a big change))

I.变(biàn=to change, to turn) is used when something/someone changes (compared with the previous condition), such as color, appearance, etc.


Old people’s hair has turned white.

老年人(lǎo​nián​rén=old people)头发(tóufà=hair)变(biàn=to turn) 白(bái=white)了(le)。

Chinese Words for Change

II. 变成(biànchéng=to turn into) is more often used for something or someone that changes totally in appearance and character, good changes into bad or vice versa.


He turned into (changed become) a robot.

Noun1 + 变成(biànchéng) + 了(le) + Noun2

他(tā=he)变成(biànchéng=to turn into)了(le)机器人(jīqìrén=robot)。

The difference between变成 (biànchéng=to turn into) and变 (biàn=to turn):

Example 1a:

变成(biànchéng) stresses the result of the change.

The leaves have turned into yellow.

树叶(shùyè=leave)变成(biànchéng=to turn into)了(le)黄色(huángsè=yellow)。

Compare with Example 1b:

变(biàn) stresses the process of the change.

The leaves have turned yellow.

树叶(shùyè=leave)(biàn=to turn)了(le)黄色(huángsè=yellow)。

Example 2a:

As soon as a giant ate a cookie then he turned an ant. (stress the process of the change)

巨人(jùrén=giant)一(yī=as soon as)吃(chī=eat)饼干(bǐnggān=cookie)就(jiù=then)变(biàn=to turn)蚂蚁 (mǎyǐ=ant)了(le)。

Compare with Example 2b:

As soon as a giant ate a cookie then he turned into an ant. (stress the result of the change – change totally in appearance)

巨人(jùrén=giant)一(yī=as soon as)吃(chī=eat)饼干(bǐnggān=cookie)就(jiù=then) 变成((biànchéng =to turn into)蚂蚁 (mǎyǐ=ant)了(le)。

III. 变化(biànhuà=to change) is used when someone or something is changing a lot (a big/great change).

Example 1a:

My hometown has changed very big.

Noun + (的) +变化(biànhuà)+ Adjective

我(wǒ=I)家乡(jiāxiāng=hometown)(的(de))变化(biànhuà=to (big) change)很(hěn=very)大(dà​=big)。

Compare with Example 1b:

My hometown turned into (changed into) a metropolis.

Noun1 + 变成(biànchéng) + 了 + Noun2

我(wǒ=I)家乡(jiāxiāng=hometown)变成(biànchéng=to turn into)了(le)大城市(dà​chéng​shì​=big city)。

Example 2a:

Long time no see, you changed a lot (a big change)

好久不见(hǎojiǔbujiàn=long time no see),你(nǐ=you)变化(biànhuà=to (big) change)很(hěn=very)多(duō=a lot)。

Compare with Example 2b:

Long time no see, you changed a lot.

好久不见(hǎojiǔbujiàn=long time no see),你(nǐ=you)变(biàn=to turn) 多(duō=a lot)了(le)。

Compare with Example 2c:

Long time no see, you turned into a billionaire.

好久不见(hǎojiǔbujiàn=long time no see),你(nǐ=you)变成(biànchéng=to turn into)亿万富翁(yìwàn fùwēng= billionaire) 了(le)。

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Chinese Words for Change

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